Chapter 1. Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers

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1 Chapter 1. Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers This material is covered in the books: Nelson Magor Cooke et al, Basic mathematics for electronics (7th edition), Glencoe, Lake Forest, Ill., [Hamilton L62*6] See chapter 36. Wilson T. Price, Charles Peselnick, Elements of data processing mathematics (3rd edition), Holt, Rinehart and Winston, [Hamilton 510 M71] See chapter 2. However, I hope that the explanations given here are adequate. The material here is probably new to you, but it should not require any prior knowledge. It really starts with primary school mathematics and is all more or less common sense. The rationale for including this material in the course is that the ideas are used all through computing, at least once you look under the cover of a computer. Counting 1.1 Normally we use decimal or base 10 when we count. What that means is that we count by tens, hundreds = tens of tens, thousands = tens of hundreds, etc. We see that in the SI units we are familiar with in science (kilometres = 10 3 metres, kilogrammes, centimetres = 10 3 metres). We can become so used to it that we don t think about it. When we write the number 5678, we learned in the primary school that the 8 means 8 units, the 7 is 7 tens, while the remaining digits are 6 hundreds = and So the number 5678 means Although base 10 is the most common, we do see some traces of other bases in every day life. For example, we normally buy eggs by dozens, and we can at least imagine shops buying eggs by the gross (meaning a dozen dozen or 12 2 = 144). So we use base 12 to some extent. We can see some evidence of base 60 in angles and in time. In time units, 60 seconds is a minute and 60 minutes (= 60 2 seconds) is an hour. Logically then we should have 60 hours in a day? Since we don t we stop using base 60. In degree measure of angles, we are familiar with 60 minutes in a degree. Binary 1.2 In binary or base 2 we count by pairs. So we start with zero, then a single unit, but once we get to two units of any size we say that is a pair or a single group of 2. So, when we count in base 2, we find: 1 is still 1 2 becomes a single group of 2 (a single pair) Using positional notation as we do for decimal, we write this as 10. To make sure we are clear which base we are using, we may write a subscript 2 as in (10) 2

2 Mathematics 1S3 (Timoney) 3 is (11) 2 = one batch of 2 plus 1 unit. 4 is (100) 2 = one batch of batches of units Using a more succinct format, we can explain how to count in binary as follows: Decimal # in binary Formula for the binary format 1 (1) (10) (11) (100) (101) (110) (111) (1000) So we can figure out what number we mean when we write something in binary by adding up the formula. Mind you that can get tedious, but the principle is not complicated. At least for small numbers, there is a way to find the binary digits for a given number (i.e., given in base 10) by repeatedly dividing by 2. For very small numbers, we can more or less do it by eye. Say for the number twenty one, we can realise that it is more than 16 = 2 4 and not as big as 32 = 2 5. In fact 21 = = = = (10101) 2 Or we can start at the other end and realise that since 21 is odd its binary digits must end in 1. 21/2 = 10+ remainder 1. So last binary digit is 1 = that remainder. Now 10/2 = 5+ no remainder. That makes the digit in the 2 s place 0. 5/2 = 2+ remainder 1. So if we repeatedly divide by 2 and keep track of the remainder each time (even when the remainder is zero) we discover the binary digits one at a time from the units place up. One thing to notice about binary is that we only ever need two digits, 0 and 1. We never need the digit 2 because that always gets carried or moved to the next place to the left. Octal 1.3 In octal or base 8 we count by 8 s. Otherwise the idea is similar. We need 8 digits now: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. So now zero is still 0 in octal, 1 is 1, 2 is 2, etc. 7 is still 7 in octal, but eight becomes (10) 8. In base 8 (10) 8 means Using a layout similar to the one used before we can explain how to count in octal as follows:

3 Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers 3 Decimal # in octal Formula for the octal format 1 (1) (2) (7) (10) = 0 9 (11) (12) (20) (21) Hex 1.4 Now we have the idea, we can think of counting in other bases, such as base 6 or base 9, but these are not used in practice. What is used is base 16, also called hexadecimal. We can go ahead as we did before, just counting in groups and batches of 16. However, we run into a problem with the notation caused by the fact that the (decimal) number 10, 11, 12 13, 14 and 15 are normally written using two adjacent symbols. If we write 11 in hexadecimal, should we mean ordinary eleven or ? To get around this difficulty we need new symbols for the numbers ten, eleven,..., fifteen. What we do is use letters a, b, c, d, e and f (or sometimes the capital letters A, B, C, D, E and F). Thus the number ten becomes a single digit number (a) 16 in hexadecimal. Eleven becomes (b) 16, and so on. But sixteen becomes (10) 16. Using a layout similar to the one used before we can explain how to count in hex as follows: Decimal # in hex Formula for the hexadecimal format 1 (1) (9) (a) (f) (10) = 0 17 (11) (1a) (20) (a5) (100) Relation with computers 1.5 Although computers are very sophisticated from the outside, with all kinds of flashy buttons, screens and so forth, the basic works are essentially many rows of on/off switches. Clearly a single on/off switch has only 2 possible settings of or states, but a row of 2 such switches has 4 possible states. on on on off off on off off

4 Mathematics 1S3 (Timoney) A row of 3 switches has twice as many possible setting because the third switch can be either on or off for each of the 4 possibilities for the first two. So 2 3 possibilities for 3 switches. In general 2 8 = 256 possibilities for 8 switches, 2 n possible settings for a row of n switches. Computers generally work with groups of 32 switches (also called 32 bits, where a bit is the official name for the position that can be either on or off) and sometimes now with groups of 64. With 32 bits we have a total of 2 32 possible settings. How big is 2 32? We could work out with a calculator that it is = but there is a fairly simple trick for finding out approximately how large a power of 2 is. It is based on the fact that 2 10 = 1024 = 10 3 Thus 2 32 = = 4 (2 10 ) 3 = 4 (10 3 ) 3 = You can see that the answer is only approximate, but the method is fairly painless (if you are able to manipulate exponents). Integer format storage 1.6 Computers use binary to store everything, including numbers. For numbers, the system used for integers (that is whole numbers, with no fractional part) is simpler to explain than the common system for dealing with numbers that may have fractional parts. In general modern computers will use 32 bits to store each integer. (Sometimes, they use 64 but we will concentrate on a 32 bit system.) How are the bits used? Take a simple example like 9. First write that in binary 9 = (1001) 2 and that only has 4 digits. We could seemingly manage by using only 4 bits (where we make them on, off, off, on) and it seems a waste to use 32 bits. However, if you think about it you can see that we would need to also record how many bits we needed each time. Generally it is simpler to decide to use 32 bits from the start. For this number 9 we can pad it out by putting zeros in front 9 = (1001) 2 = ( ) 2 and then we end up filling our row of 32 bits like this: Bit position: One practical aspect of this system is that it places a limit on the maximum size of the integers we can store. Since we allocate 32 bits we have a total of 2 32 = different settings and so we have room for only that many different integers. So we could fit in all the integers from 0 to , but that is usually not such a good strategy because we may also want to allow room for negative integers. If we don t especially favour positive integers over negative ones, that leaves us with space to store the integers from about 2 31 to To be precise, that would be = numbers if we include zero and so we would have to leave out either ±2 31.

5 Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers 5 Notice that 2 31 = is not by any means a huge number. In a big company, there would be more Euros passing through the accounts than that in a year. In astronomy, the number of kilometres between stars would usually be bigger than that. Computers are not actually limited to dealing with numbers less than , but they often are limited to dealing in this range for exact integer calculations. We will return to another method for dealing with numbers that have fractional parts and it allows for numbers with much larger magnitudes. However, this is done at the expense of less accuracy. When dealing with integers (that are within the range allowed) we can do exact calculations. Returning to integers, we should explain about how to deal with negative integers. One way would be to allocate one bit to be a sign bit. So bit number 1 on could mean a minus sign. In this way we could store 9 = (1001) 2 = ( ) 2 by just turning on the first bit. However, if you ask your calculator to tell you 9 in binary, you will get a different answer. The reason is that computers generally do something more complicated with negative integers. This extra complication is not so important for us, but just briefly the idea is that the method used saves having to ever do subtraction. So 1 is actually stored as all ones: Bit position: If you add 1 to that in binary, you will have to carry all the time. Eventually you will get zeros in all 32 allowable places and you will have to carry the last 1 past the end. Since, only 32 places are allowed, this final carried 1 just disappears and we get 32 zeros, or 0. In general, to store a negative number we take the binary form of 1 less than the number and then take what is called the ones complement of that. So when 9 is stored we would look at the way we would store +8 and then flip all the 1 s to 0 s and the 0 s to 1 s Bit position: Using this method of storing negative numbers, all subtractions can be performed as though they were additions (using the carrying rules and the possibility that a 1 will get lost past the 32nd position). By the way, the numbering of the bits is not really fixed. We could number them from right to left instead, but this really depends on whether you are looking at the bits from the top or the bottom. In any case, you can t really see bits normally. Simple computer programs that use integers will be limited to the range of integers from 2 31 up to (which is the number that has 31 1 s in binary). However, it is possible to write programs that will deal with a larger range of integers. You can arrange your program to use more than 32 bits to store each integer, for example to use several rows of 32 bits. However, the program will then generally have to be able to implement its own carrying rules and so forth

6 Mathematics 1S3 (Timoney) for addition and subtraction of these bigger integers. So you will not simply be able to use the ordinary plus and times that you can use with regular integers. Floating point format storage 1.7 In order to cope with numbers that are allowed to have fractional parts, computers use a binary version of the usual decimal point. Perhaps we should call it a binary point as decimal refers to base 10. Recall that what we mean by digits after the decimal point has to do with multiples of 1/10, 1/100 = 1/10 2 = 10 2, etc. So the number means = We use the binary point in the same way with powers of 1/2. So ( ) 2 = As in the familiar decimal system, every number can be written as a binary decimal. (Well that is a contradictory statement. Really we should say we can write every number in binary using a binary point.) As in decimal, there can sometimes be infinitely many digits after the point. What we do next is use a binary version of scientific notation. (You will see the ordinary decimal scientific notation on your calculator at times, when big numbers are written with an E.) The usual decimal scientific notation is like this = We refer to the part (a number between 1 and 10 or between -1 and -10 for negative numbers) as the mantissa. The power (in this case the 4) is called the exponent. Another decimal example is = and here the mantissa is while the exponent is 3. This is all based on the fact that multiplying or dividing by powers of 10 simply moves the decimal point around. In binary, what happens is that multiplying or dividing by powers of 2 moves the binary point. (101) 2 = (10.1) 2 = = (101) ( ) 2 = ( ) This last is an example of a number in the binary version of scientific notation. The mantissa is ( ) 2 and we can always arrange (no matter what number we are dealing with) to have the mantissa between 1 and 2. In fact always less than 2, and so beginning with 1. something always. For negative numbers we would need a minus sign in front. The exponent in this last example is 3 (the power that goes on the 2).

7 Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers 7 What we do then is write every number in this binary version of scientific notation. That saves us from having to record where to put the binary point, because it is always in the same place. Or really, the exponent tells us how far to move the point from that standard place. Computers then normally allocate a fixed number of bits for storing such numbers. The usual default is to allocate 32 bits in total (though 64 is quite common also). Within the 32 bits they have to store the mantissa and the exponent. Computers do everything in binary. The mantissa is already in binary, but we also need the exponent in binary. So in the last example the mantissa is +( ) 2 while the exponent is 3 = (11) 2. Computers usually allocate 24 bits for storing the mantissa (including its possible sign) and the remaining 8 bits for the exponent. In our little example, 24 bits is plenty for the mantissa and we would need to make it longer to fill up the 24 bits: ( ) 2 will be the same as ( ) 2. However, there are numbers that need more than 24 binary digits in the mantissa, and what we must then do is round off. In fact, since we normally want to keep one spot for a possible sign, we have to chop off the mantissa after 23 binary digits (or more usually we will round up or down depending on whether the digit in the next place is 1 or 0). Filling out example number ( ) into 32 bits using this system, we might get this: Bit position: We are keeping bit 1 for a possible sign on the mantissa and we also need to allow the possibility of negative exponents. For example ( ) 2 = (1.11) is negative and so has a negative mantissa (1.11) 2. Because it is less than 1 in absolute value, it also has a negative exponent 4 = (100) 2. To be a bit more accurate about how computers really do things, they normally put the sign bit (of the mantissa) first (or in their idea of the most prominent place), then but the 8 bits of the exponent next and the remaining 23 bits of the mantissa at the end. So a better picture for ( ) is this: ± exponent mantissa less sign This is just explained for the sake of greater accuracy but is not our main concern. The method we have sketched is called single precision floating point storage. There are some details we have not gone into here (such as how to store 0). Another common method, called double precision, uses 64 bits to store each number, 53 for the mantissa and 11 for the exponent. Limitations of floating point 1.8 Apart from the information about how the computer uses binary to store these floating point numbers 1 we can get an idea of the scope and accuracy that this system allows. 1 the words indicate that the position of the binary point is movable, controlled by the exponent

8 Mathematics 1S3 (Timoney) The largest possible number we can store has mantissa ( ) 2 (with the maximum possible number of 1 s) and exponent as large as possible. Now ( ) 2 (with 23 1 s) is just about 2 and the largest possible exponent is = 127. [We are allowed 8 bits for the exponent, which gives us room for 2 8 = 256 different exponents. About half should be negative, and we need room for zero. So that means we can deal with exponents from 128 to +127.] Thus our largest floating point number is about = This is quite a big number and we can estimate it by using the 2 10 = 10 3 idea = = 256 (2 10 ) 12 = 256 (10 3 ) 12 = = This is quite a bit larger than the limit of around we had with integers. Indeed it is large enough for most ordinary purposes. We can also find the smallest positive number that we can store. It will have the smallest possible mantissa (1.0) 2 and the most negative possible exponent, 128. So it is = = = = Again this is pretty tiny. If we use double precision (64 bits per number, requires twice as much computer memory per number) we get an exponent range from 2 10 = 1024 to = The largest possible number is = = 16 (2 10 ) 102 = 16 (10 3 ) 102 = and the smallest is the reciprocal of this. In both single and double precision, we have the same range of sizes for negative numbers as we have for positive numbers. So the limitation on size are not severe limitations, but the key consideration is the limit on the accuracy of the mantissa imposed by the 24 bit limit (or the 53 bit limit for double precision). We will return to this point later on, but the difficulty is essentially not with the smallest number we can store but with the next biggest number greater than 1 we can store. That number has exponent 0 and mantissa ( ) 2 where we put in as many zeros as we can fit before the final 1. Allowing 1 sign bit, we have 23 places in total and so we fit 21 zeros. That means the number is = = (2 10 ) = = A consequence of this is that we cannot add a very small number to 1 and get an accurate answer, even though we can keep track of both the 1 and the very small number fine. For example the small number could be 2 24 or 2 75 ), but we would be forced to round 1+ either of those numbers to 1.

9 Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers 9 We can get a similar problem with numbers of different magnitude than 1. If we look at the problem relative to the size of the correct result, we get a concept called relative error for a quantity. We will come back to this later, but the idea is that an error should not be considered in the abstract. [An error of 1 milimetre may seem small, and it would be quite small if the total magnitude of the quantity concerned was 1 kilometre. Even if the total magnitude was 1 metre, 1 milimetre may well be not so significant, depending on the context. But if the measurement is for the diameter of a needle, then a 1 milimetre error could be huge.] Another way to look at the idea of a relative error will be to consider the number of significant figures in a quantity. What happens with single precision floating point numbers is that we have at most 23 significant binary digits. When translated into decimal, this means 6 or 7 significant digits. That means that a computer program that prints an answer should normally not be trusted completely in the units place. (The 7 may or may not be entirely right and the.89 are almost certainly of no consequence.) That is even in the best possible case. There may also be more significant errors along the way in a calculation that could affect the answer more drastically. If a computer works in double precision, then there is a chance of more significant digits. In double precision, the next number after 1 is = and we can get about 15 accurate digits (if all goes well). Converting Octal or Hex to binary 1.9 We did already discuss some conversions of integers between different bases. There is a method based on repeated division and keeping track of remainders. We can use this to convert from decimal to octal, to hex, or to binary. If we write out the formula corresponding to a number in binary, octal or hex, we can compute the number in decimal by evaluating the formula. These methods involve quite a bit of work, especially if the number is large. However there is a very simple way to convert between octal and binary. It is based on the fact that 8 = 2 3 is a power of 2 and so it is very easy to convert base 8 to base 2. (541) 8 = = ( ) (1 2 2 ) = = ( ) 2 If we look at how this works, it basically means that we can convert from octal to binary by converting each octal digit to binary separately but we must write each digit as a 3 digit binary number. Redoing the above example that way we have 5 = (101) 2 (uses 3 digits anyhow), 4 = (100) 2 (again uses 3 digits) and 1 = (1) 2 = (001) 2 (here we have to force ourselves to use up 3 digits) and we can say (541) 8 = ( ) 2 = ( ) 2 This method works with any number of octal digits and we never have to really convert anything but the 8 digits 0-7 to binary. It is also reversible. We can convert any binary number to

10 Mathematics 1S3 (Timoney) octal very quickly if we just group the digits in 3 s starting from the units. For example ( ) 2 = ( ) 2 = (172413) 8 A similar method works for converting between binary and hex, except that now the rule is 4 binary digits for each hex digit. It all works because 16 = 2 4. For example Or going in reverse (a539) 16 = ( ) 2 = ( ) 2 ( ) 2 = ( ) 2 = (f50b) 16 We can use these ideas to convert octal to hex or vice versa by going via binary. We never actually have to convert any number bigger than 15. If we wanted to convert a number such as 5071 to binary, it may be easier to find the octal representation (by repeatedly dividing by 8 and keeping track of all remainders) and then converting to binary at the end via the 3 binary digits for one octal rule = remainder = 79 + remainder = 9 + remainder = 1 + remainder = 0 + remainder 1 (5071) 10 = (11717) 8 = ( ) 2 = ( ) 2 = ( ) 2 We can now explain why computer people are fond of base 16 or hex. Octal looks easier to read (no need to worry about the new digits a for ten, etc) but in computers we are frequently considering 32 bits at a time. Using the 3 binary for one octal rule, this allows us to write out the 32 bits quickly, but it takes us eleven octal digits. The messy part is that we really don t quite use the eleventh octal digit fully. It can be at most (11) 2 = 3. With hex, we have a 4 binary digits for one hex rule and 32 binary digits or bits exactly uses up 8 hex digits. Computers use binary for everything, not just numbers. For example, text is encoded in binary by numbering all the letters and symbols. The most well used method for doing this is called ASCII (an acronym that stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange).

11 Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers 11 and it uses 7 binary digits or bits for each letter. You may be surprised that there are 2 7 = 128 letters, as there seem to be only 26 normally. But if you think a little you will see that there are 52 if you count upper and lower case separately. Moreover there are punctuation marks that you will see on your computer keyboard like!,.? / # [ ] { } ( ) * & ˆ % $ and we also need to keep track of the digits 0-9 as symbols (separately to keeping track of the numerical values). Finally the ASCII code allocates numbers or bit patterns to some invisible things like space, tab, new line and in the end 127 is just barely enough. On a UNIX system, you can find out what the ASCII code is by typing the command man ascii at the command line prompt. Here is what you will see: ASCII(7) FreeBSD Miscellaneous Information Manual ASCII(7) NAME ascii - octal, hexadecimal and decimal ASCII character sets DESCRIPTION The octal set: 000 nul 001 soh 002 stx 003 etx 004 eot 005 enq 006 ack 007 bel 010 bs 011 ht 012 nl 013 vt 014 np 015 cr 016 so 017 si 020 dle 021 dc1 022 dc2 023 dc3 024 dc4 025 nak 026 syn 027 etb 030 can 031 em 032 sub 033 esc 034 fs 035 gs 036 rs 037 us 040 sp 041! 042 " 043 # 044 $ 045 % 046 & ( 051 ) 052 * , / : 073 ; 074 < 075 = 076 > 077? 101 A 102 B 103 C 104 D 105 E 106 F 107 G 110 H 111 I 112 J 113 K 114 L 115 M 116 N 117 O 120 P 121 Q 122 R 123 S 124 T 125 U 126 V 127 W 130 X 131 Y 132 Z 133 [ 134 \ 135 ] 136 ˆ 137 _ a 142 b 143 c 144 d 145 e 146 f 147 g 150 h 151 i 152 j 153 k 154 l 155 m 156 n 157 o 160 p 161 q 162 r 163 s 164 t 165 u 166 v 167 w 170 x 171 y 172 z 173 { } del The hexadecimal set: 00 nul 01 soh 02 stx 03 etx 04 eot 05 enq 06 ack 07 bel 08 bs 09 ht 0a nl 0b vt 0c np 0d cr 0e so 0f si 10 dle 11 dc1 12 dc2 13 dc3 14 dc4 15 nak 16 syn 17 etb 18 can 19 em 1a sub 1b esc 1c fs 1d gs 1e rs 1f us 20 sp 21! 22 " 23 # 24 $ 25 % 26 & ( 29 ) 2a * 2b + 2c, 2d - 2e. 2f / a : 3b ; 3c < 3d = 3e > 3f? 41 A 42 B 43 C 44 D 45 E 46 F 47 G 48 H 49 I 4a J 4b K 4c L 4d M 4e N 4f O 50 P 51 Q 52 R 53 S 54 T 55 U 56 V 57 W 58 X 59 Y 5a Z 5b [ 5c \ 5d ] 5e ˆ 5f _ a 62 b 63 c 64 d 65 e 66 f 67 g 68 h 69 i 6a j 6b k 6c l 6d m 6e n 6f o 70 p 71 q 72 r 73 s 74 t 75 u 76 v 77 w 78 x 79 y 7a z 7b { 7c 7d } 7e 7f del

12 Mathematics 1S3 (Timoney) The decimal set: 0 nul 1 soh 2 stx 3 etx 4 eot 5 enq 6 ack 7 bel 8 bs 9 ht 10 nl 11 vt 12 np 13 cr 14 so 15 si 16 dle 17 dc1 18 dc2 19 dc3 20 dc4 21 nak 22 syn 23 etb 24 can 25 em 26 sub 27 esc 28 fs 29 gs 30 rs 31 us 32 sp 33! 34 " 35 # 36 $ 37 % 38 & ( 41 ) 42 * , / : 59 ; 60 < 61 = 62 > 63? 65 A 66 B 67 C 68 D 69 E 70 F 71 G 72 H 73 I 74 J 75 K 76 L 77 M 78 N 79 O 80 P 81 Q 82 R 83 S 84 T 85 U 86 V 87 W 88 X 89 Y 90 Z 91 [ 92 \ 93 ] 94 ˆ 95 _ a 98 b 99 c 100 d 101 e 102 f 103 g 104 h 105 i 106 j 107 k 108 l 109 m 110 n 111 o 112 p 113 q 114 r 115 s 116 t 117 u 118 v 119 w 120 x 121 y 122 z 123 { } del FILES /usr/share/misc/ascii HISTORY An ascii manual page appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX. BSD June 5, 1993 I certainly would not try to remember this, but you can see that the symbol A (capital A) is given a code (101) 8 = (41) 16 = (65) 10 and that the rest of the capital letters follow A in the usual order. This means that A uses the 7 bits in ASCII but computers almost invariably allocate 8 bits to store each letter. They sometimes differ about what they do with the wasted 8th bit, but the extra bit allows space for 2 8 = 256 letters while ASCII only specifies 128 different codes. If you think about it you will see that there are no codes for accented letters like á or è (which you might need in Irish or French), no codes for the Greek or Russian letters, no codes for Arabic or Hindu. In fact 8 bits (or 256 total symbols) is nowhere near enough to cope with all the alphabets of the World. That is a reflection of the fact that ASCII goes back to the early days of computers when memory was relatively very scarce compared to now, and also when the computer industry was mostly American. The modern system (not yet universally used) is called UNICODE and it allocates 16 bits for each character. Even with 2 16 = possible codes, there is a difficulty accommodating all the worlds writing systems (including Chinese, Japanese, mathematical symbols, etc). Converting fractions to binary 1.10 We now look at a way to convert fractions to binary. We already that mentioned that in principle every real number, including fractions, can be represented as a binary decimal (or really using a binary point ). We have already looked into whole numbers fairly extensively and what remains to do is to explain a practical way to find the binary digits for a fraction. You see if we start with (say 34 we can say that is We know = (110) 2 and if we could work out how to represent 4 as 0. something in binary then we would 5 have 34 = = (110. something) To work out what something should be we work backwards from the answer. We can t exactly do that without having the answer, but we can proceed as we do in algebra by writing

13 Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers 13 down the unknown digits. Later we will work them out. Say the digits we want are b 1, b 2, b 3,... and so 4 5 = (0.b 1b 2 b 3 b 4 ) 2 We don t know any of b 1, b 2, b 3,... yet but we know they should be base 2 digits and so each one is either 0 or 1. We can write the above equation as a formula and we have If we multiply both sides by 2, we get 4 5 = b b b b = b 1 + b b b In other words multiplying by 2 just moves the binary point and we have 8 5 = (b 1.b 2 b 3 b 4 ) 2 Now if we take the whole number part of both sides we get 1 on the left and b 1 on the right. So we must have b 1 = 1. But if we take the fractional parts of both sides we have 3 5 = (0.b 2b 3 b 4 ) 2 We are now in a similar situation to where we began (but not with the same fraction) and we can repeat the trick we just did. Double both sides again 6 5 = (b 2.b 3 b 4 b 5 ) 2 Take whole number parts of both sides: b 2 = 1. Take fractional parts of both sides. 1 5 = (0.b 3b 4 b 5 ) 2 We can repeat our trick as often as we want to uncover as many of the values b 1, b 2, b 3, etc as we have the patience to discover. What we have is a method, in fact a repetitive method where we repeat similar instructions many times. We call a method like this an algorithm, and this kind of thing is quite easy to programme on a computer because one of the programming instructions in almost any computer language is REPEAT (meaning repeat a certain sequence of steps from where you left off the last time). In this case we can go a few more times through the steps to see how we get on. Double both sides again. 2 5 = (b 3.b 4 b 5 b 6 ) 2

14 Mathematics 1S3 (Timoney) Whole number parts. b 3 = 0. Fractional parts Double both sides again. Whole number parts. b 4 = 0. Fractional parts 2 5 = (0.b 4b 5 b 6 ) = (b 4.b 5 b 6 b 7 ) = (0.b 5b 6 b 7 ) 2 This is getting monotonous, but you see the idea. You can get as many of the b s as you like. But, if you look more carefully, you will see that it has now reached repetition and not just monotony. We are back to the same fraction as we began with 4. If we compare the last equation 5 to the starting one 4 5 = (0.b 1b 2 b 3 b 4 ) 2 we realise that everything will unfold again exactly as before. We must find b 5 = b 1 = 1, b 6 = b 2 = 1, b 7 = b 3 = 0, b 8 = b 4 = 0, b 9 = b 5 = b 1 and so we have a repeating pattern of digits So we can write the binary expansion of 4 down fully as a repeating pattern 5 and our original number as 4 5 = (0.1100) = ( ) 2 Sample exam questions June 2000 (a) Write out the four (base 10) numbers 3, 7, 19, 31 in binary and explain how a modern computer might use 32 bits to store these numbers. (b) Convert the hexadecimal number (c14b) 16 to octal by first converting it to binary via the 4 binary for one hexadecimal rule and then using a similar rule to convert to octal. (c) Convert 29/5 to binary. Then convert the binary result to scientific notation and give the (binary) mantissa and exponent for it. June 2001 (a) Write out the four (base 10) numbers 5, 10, 19, 35 in binary. Explain how a modern computer might use 32 bits to store 10 and 19 (base ten) as integer numbers.

15 Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbers 15 If the number 10 (base ten) was stored as a floating point (single precision) number instead of as an integer, how might the 32 bits then be allocated? If using single precision floating point format, what would be the largest and smallest positive number that could be stored? (Explain your reasoning.) Explain the rough magnitude of these numbers as powers of ten. (b) Convert the octal number (15217) 8 to hexadecimal by first converting it to binary via the 3 binary for one octal rule and then using a similar rule to convert to hexadecimal. (c) Convert 29/11 to binary. October 22, 2005

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